Well, I’m back from England having finished 5 weeks of recording The Kanyu Tree at Angelic Studios and it’s fair to say that pro tools/daw’s have changed the way in which records are made forever. This has been true for a while, but this record has point a fine point on this sentiment. This is the bands first record so they didn’t have the history of the limits of analog recording so they were free to explore all of the options available to them to make the record that they wanted to. Tempo has always been an issue when making records. What works live doesn’t always work on record. Natural timing pushes and pulls give recorded music it’s human feel. While locking everything to a grid is appropriate sometimes, it occasionally takes the heart out of a song. This was the biggest challenge on this project.
The producer and the band liked some sections of some songs to be locked solid to a grid, but other sections felt too stiff. We tried recording the songs at several tempos and then edited the sections together, each having it’s own tempo. But some songs still didn’t “feel” right. The answer came in the form of elastic audio. We averaged out the tempos, recoded the song to a click at one tempo and had the flexibility to change tempos of different sections using elastic audio until the song worked as a whole. While certain sections felt good at a specific tempo, but when the song played through some of the sections still needed to be tweaked just a bit to get the whole song to feel right. I’ll state the obvious by saying that this was inconceivable before daws/pro tools came along.
Also, some of the arrangements are huge with many layers of vocals and guitars that would have taken tons of bouncing down and comping to make room for further overdubs. We had the luxury of experimenting with varying arrangements thanks to the massive track count in pro tools. Being that I wasn’t sure if I would be the mix engineer for the project, I made sure that the tracks were cut n a way that would allow for maximum flexibility during the mix. The quick example is that I made sure to take a dry di signal on all of the guitars and bass for the purpose of re-amping. Being that I am indeed mixing the record I’m glad that I thought of the mix engineer when recording.
Having spent much of my time over the past years mixing, I had a pretty clear picture in my minds ear of how I though the record would sound when finished. By getting better at mixing, my recording engineer skills have also improved as well. I have a pretty good sense of how different instruments blend together in a mix so I’m able to record them in a way that facilitates the mixing process. Keeping the final mix in mind as I’m recording helps me tremendously when it comes time to mixing as I hope that when other engineers mix tracks that I’ve cut find that there is less damage control going on and just having fun with the balances and imaging. It was a tremendous experience working with such a talented team and using all of what pro tools has to offer to cut an awesome record. On to mixing……